Akamai eyes cloud market with Connected Cloud
Akamai marks foray into cloud computing with a distributed cloud computing platform that is touted to make it easier for enterprises to get applications and data closer to their customers
Akamai has made its foray into cloud computing with the debut of its Connected Cloud platform that brings compute services to the network edge following its $900m acquisition of Linode, an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provider.
Speaking to Computer Weekly about the move, Noam Freedman, Akamai’s senior vice-president and general manager of compute, said the new platform, built from the capabilities of Linode, will address the limitations of IaaS offerings from major hyperscalers today.
Freedman noted that although the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS) have focused on expanding their footprint, those efforts are “still in a mode where it’s very much a Local Zone paired with a particular region”.
“In terms of distribution, we expect, over time, to have more cloud computing locations than any of the hyperscalers do, but also in the way we’re going to build those services,” Freedman said.
“The intent is to be able to get to the point where a developer can give us the containers they have, and we would handle the work of distributing them across the locations they need and scaling them up and down as needed.
“With the hyperscalers today, you could set up Kubernetes clusters in a region, but if you want to run them everywhere, you are responsible for managing those clusters globally and figuring out how you do the distribution to users in different locations,” he added.
Dave McCarthy, research vice-president of IDC, noted that the cloud’s next phase requires a shift in how developers and enterprises think about getting applications and data closer to their customers.
“It redefines how the industry looks at things like performance, scale, cost and security, as workloads are no longer built for one place but are delivered across a wide spectrum of compute and geography.
“Akamai’s innovative rethinking of how this gets done – and how it is architecting Akamai Connected Cloud – puts it in a unique position to usher in an exciting new era for technology and to help enterprises build, deploy and secure distributed applications,” he added.
Noam Freedman, Akamai
To deliver the new service, Akamai is building three new enterprise-scale core cloud computing sites in the US and Europe. Like Akamai’s existing 11 core sites, the new sites will plug into the Akamai backbone, connecting them to its distributed edge network.
When ready by the end of the second quarter this year, the new sites will provide all of the cloud computing services – including AMD-based x86 compute services – acquired from Linode. Freedman said Akamai was looking to offer GPU services as well.
Akamai currently has four core sites in Asia-Pacific – Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Mumbai. They will be joined by sites in Chennai, Jakarta, Osaka and Auckland as part of the company’s plan to roll out 13 core sites across the globe this year.
It is also planning to build distributed sites in over 50 cities, including those in Australia, India and Southeast Asia, to bring basic cloud computing capabilities to locations currently underserved by other cloud providers.
With Connected Cloud, Freedman said Akamai was also bringing content delivery network (CDN)-like economics to cloud egress. “A typical enterprise customer will see that our pricing is 80-90% lower than what they experience from Amazon, Microsoft and Google,” he claimed.
While Linode’s customer base comprises mostly small and medium-sized enterprises, Akamai serves some of the world’s largest companies, making it necessary to ensure that Connected Cloud meets strict compliance and other enterprise-grade requirements.
Freedman said Akamai’s cloud services now comply with data and information security standards such as ISO 27001, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and SOC (Systems and Organisational Controls) 2, with PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance coming later in the year.
“Having the appropriate scale, compliance regimes and improving the resiliency of the offerings have all been core to the work we’ve been doing,” he added.
Connected Cloud has seen some early interest from organisations in the media, gaming and retail industries, as well as suppliers of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, Freedman said, citing demand drivers such as the need for global distribution and higher bandwidth at a lower cost.
On targets that Akamai has set for the platform, Freedman said the company will focus on building out its infrastructure with the confidence that it will be able to expand its distributed sites farther than other cloud providers.
“In terms of business metrics, obviously there’s a tremendous amount of spending in cloud today and a few providers have very large market shares. If, in a few years, our market share can be measured in single-digit percentages of the overall cloud market, then we will certainly see that as a wild success.”
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